Elaborate stolen car operation uncovered near Hailsham

High-value vehicles are being ‘cannibalised’ in a suspected criminal operation which has been unearthed in the Hailsham area.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 3:33 pm
Police. Pic Steve Robards

Police raided an industrial unit in Hellingly on Tuesday (January 28) and found a stolen vehicle taken from a recent street robbery in London, as well as other car components believed to have been stripped from other stolen vehicles from across the country.

Amongst the find, police said officers located a number of ‘ghost’ number plates, used to disguise stolen cars.

Sussex Police say it is believed the operation, often referred to as a ‘chop shop’, focuses on stealing high-value vehicles with the intention of then stripping the vehicles down and selling on these parts to various vehicle owners at discounted rates.

A 28-year-old man from Hailsham and a 25-year-old man from Stone Cross, near Pevensey, were each arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.

Following interview, police said both have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Detective Constable Elliott Lander said, “Chop shops provide an outlet for car thieves, accepting the stolen vehicles and then dismantling them sometimes in a matter of hours.

“The parts are often used to fix repairable write-offs sold by insurers through salvage auctions or the parts are sold online to unwitting buyers.

“I would urge members of the public to get in touch if they suspect a premise near them is being used to handle stolen vehicles − the information they provide is vital and we really appreciate their support.”

Information can be sent online or by phoning 101, quoting serial 721 of 28/01.

Alternatively it can be reported anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers, telephone 0800 555 111.